STALEMATE AT PITTODRIE - Aberdeen 0 Rangers 0

Last updated : 26 January 2009 By Southside Johnny
Attendance 20,441

A packed Pittodrie witnessed an enthralling game on a bitterly cold day.

Manager Walter Smith made one change from last weekend with Lee McCulloch replacing Kris Boyd as the Ibrox boss reverted to the 4-5-1 system that had served him so well last season. Smith however was offering himself as a hostage to fortune with the relegation of his top goalscorer to the substitute's bench.

Rangers - unaccountably wearing their white change strip - were first to threaten with John Fleck's third minute angled drive from a Barry Ferguson pass just over.

Five minutes later a David Weir error presented the home side with their first chance from a twenty-yard Charlie Mulgrew free-kick that Allan McGregor turned wide.

The 'Dons' had the bulk of the early pressure - and McGregor again proved equal to the task in thirteen minutes when he held Darren Mackie's 22-yard snap-shot.

Rangers were coming more and more into the game - and McCulloch tested home goalkeeper Jamie Langfield with a 25-yard drive from a Fleck pass that was beaten out in 25 minutes..

Eight minutes later Kenny Miller headed over from a Kirk Broadfoot cross.

The visitors were in command - a Fleck free-kick in 35 minutes found Madjid Bougherra whose volley was deflected wide - then seven minutes later another Fleck opening found Pedro Mendes whose 22-yard shot was held by Langfield.

The interval arrived with the game goalless - and within six minutes of the restart the 'Dons' suffered an injury blow when Langfield dived to block Miller from a Broadfoot cutback. The 'keeper was replaced by Bertrand Bossu.

The home side had a penalty claim waved aside by Referee Calum Murray on the hour when Lee Miller went down when challenged by David Weir as he moved onto a Gary McDonald cross.

Two minutes later McCulloch - outstanding in midfield - cut in from the right only to see his shot turned wide by Bossu, then Boyd replaced Miller immediately thereafter.

Rangers themselves had a strong penalty claim denied in 64 minutes when Mackie handled a Steve Davis corner.

Seven minutes later Boyd was inches away from connecting with a Barry Ferguson cutback after the Ibrox Captain had been released down the right by Bougherra.

Nacho Novo substituted for Fleck in 76 minutes - and the little Spaniard almost broke the deadlock eight minutes later when he chested down a Mendes cross only to see his shot come back off a post.

With time running out a Davis effort from a Sasa Papac cross was held by Bossu - but the final chance of the game came at the other end when Mackie's header from a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick was wide of the target.

The game ended goalless - and afterwards Walter Smith commented:

"I'm disappointed not to win - but Aberdeen worked hard and defended well. We did well and created enough chances to win. We dominated possession after a scrappy opening."

ABERDEEN Langfield (Bossu 51); Foster, Severin, Diamond, Mulgrew; Mackie, McDonald, Kerr, Duff (Vidal 63); Aluko (Maguire 80), Miller
UNUSED SUBS Wright, De Visscher, Mair, Considine

RANGERS McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Bougherra, Papac; Davis, Mendes, McCulloch, Ferguson, Fleck (Novo 76); Miller (Boyd 62)
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Dailly, Whittaker, Aaron, Ness

REFEREE Calum Murray